WASHINGTON, D.C - The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation says he is pleased with a US Supreme Court decision Monday that says the government must fully reimburse Native American tribes for money they spent on federal programs.

The federal government had agreed to fully reimburse money tribes spent on programs like law enforcement, environmental protection and agricultural assistance, but Congress capped the amount of money earmarked for that reimbursement.

The tribes sued.

"The nation's highest court has previously maintained that the federal government must be held to its full financial obligations to tribal self-determination contracts, which are a key component of how we provide services to our people. I am pleased that the US Supreme Court honored that precedent with today's ruling and look forward to learning more details about its implementation," said Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker.

Cherokee Nation officials say the ruling means the feds must fully reimburse tribes for contracts received under the Indian Self-Determination Act.

They say about half of all BIA and Indian Health Service operations nationally fall under one of these contracts.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion for Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito dissented.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.